PORTSMOUTH — When a $128 Louis Vuitton replica purse was stolen from her downtown resale shop, Wear House owner Angela Theos rapidly posted surveillance images of the blonde suspect online.
Six days later, the designer griet monogram tote bag was left at her front door, with a note of apology.
“I would’ve bet a million dollars I would never see it again,” Theos said.
The bag contained a price tag from when it was first sold for $168, said the shop owner. A local woman consigned it with Wear House, which priced it for $128 and, per agreement, the store takes a commission.
Theos said she had the fake bag displayed in a front window of the 74 Congress St. resale shop, which was busy when it was stolen. She said the bag was not easily accessible and her surveillance images show a blonde woman back up to the window and move the bag closer to the store interior. The images show the woman put it on a stool, then move to a counter and ask a clerk about prices for other replica handbags, Theos said. The customer was then filmed going back to where she’d moved the bag, leave the store and the bag was gone, Theos said.
Another clerk was walking to work when she noticed the blonde woman walking on Congress Street with the cheap Louis Vuitton, Theos said. When she got to Wear House, the clerk remarked to the other employees about how the bag must have sold because she saw it going down the street. Theos said the clerks called her and she immediately accessed surveillance images through her phone and posted screen shots of the woman on Facebook. They were also shared with police, she said.
The resale shop owner said she called the cosigner to tell her what happened and assure she would make good on payment for the replica bag. Theos said she scoured Craigslist, eBay and pawn shops in search of the swiped Louis Vuitton. She also called her insurance company to try and learn, without success, if a filed claim for the stolen purse would raise her premium.
Several people who saw her Facebook post messaged Theos to say they thought they recognized the woman in the surveillance images and those comments were also shared with police, she said.
Then, on Thursday morning, the bag was left at the Wear House front door.
Theos said she swept the sidewalk at 9:40 a.m., went back inside the shop and when she went to open for the day 10 minutes later, she saw a plastic bag “right in the doorway.” Inside was the replica Louis Vuitton bag with a note.
Addressed to “Wear House owner,” the note said the author was sorry for stealing the bag and should have returned it sooner, Theos said. The writer said she also should have done it in person, but is “very ashamed” of her actions, Theos said.
“I’m happy she had the conscience to give it back,” Theos said, while reporting that the fake bag was not damaged.
Police Sgt. Chris Kiberd said it’s “very rare” for someone to return something they stole, while expressing remorse.
“I don’t recall that ever happening,” he said. “That’s really great.”
The police investigation remains open.
The Louis Vuitton replica purse is now secured on a Wear House shelf and is available for sale.